Suraj Ramnath

Godrej Locks turns thieves into brand ambassadors

The brand team calls them 'reformed robbers'. A look at the effort.

Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems has recently launched a three-film digital campaign titled #HowSafeAreYou. It has been created by Whyness Worldwide, produced by Blue Drop and directed by Nikhil Mahajan.

In the videos former robbers talk about how they used to break into homes. The idea is to create awareness around safety. The product branding is subtle; the product is displayed at the end of each of the three videos, along with a super that reads 'Issued in public interest'.

Godrej Locks turns thieves into brand ambassadors

Digital ad by Godrej Locks - Ex-Robber Speaks #1 - Issued In Public InterestThe brand plans to make shorter edits of these films and promote the videos in theatres in the near future.

Godrej Locks turns thieves into brand ambassadors

Digital ad by Godrej Locks - Ex-Robber Speaks #2 - Issued In Public InterestAbout the brief and idea, Shyam Motwani, executive vice president and business head, Godrej Locks, tells afaqs!, "It was a simple, one-line brief - 'Please create something that has not been done so far to promote safety at home'. When the agency presented the story, we found it refreshingly new in its creative approach and thought. We wanted to make something 'in public interest' in order to create awareness around home safety in our country. We had the younger generation of potential users in mind and our focus was on digital platforms to connect with this digital audience. And since the message had to be delivered in an appropriate way, we feel a TVC would never have achieved what we wanted... hence, we made digital films."

Godrej Locks turns thieves into brand ambassadors

Digital ad by Godrej Locks - Ex-Robber Speaks #3 - Issued In Public InterestThree different products from Godrej Locks have been showcased in these films.

Godrej Locks turns thieves into brand ambassadors

Shyam Motwani

Godrej Locks turns thieves into brand ambassadors

Ravi DeshpandeAbout the media plan, Motwani adds, "We have no plans to make TVCs. A TV commercial, in a typical marketing world, is about 'problem-solution'. We are not presenting this as a problem and a solution. What we are saying is - we live in a modern world where the rate of crime has increased, is taking an ugly form and that human life is at stake. With elders and kids at home, one has to be extra careful about safety..."

The core target audience for the brand is the 25-45 year old (male and female) from SEC A and B.

How did the team manage to shoot these videos? They feature actual robbers, mind you. Well, okay... former robbers. Speaking about the challenges, Ravi Deshpande, founder and chief creative officer, Whyness Worldwide, tells afaqs!, "Finding these ex-robbers, who were willing to speak into a camera and confess... and talk about how they went about their 'business', was a challenge. Our production house managed to convince them and they agreed... as long as their faces were not seen." Their names, however, appear as supers on the screen.

It took the production team (Blue Drop) around two to three months to find these individuals and get them to agree to being part this campaign, we learn. "The team had to go to jails, police stations (to access their files) and do a lot of research..." says Deshpande, recalling the process of 'recruiting' these now 'reformed robbers' as Godrej puts it.

The ads were shot in a studio designed to resemble some sort of interrogation room. We asked Deshpande about the reason behind shooting in a dark, dingy jail-type setting. Why not just have them face a camera (faces could be blurred) in a brightly lit room and talk about the same experiences? Was it merely to add drama to the videos? He answers, "It is an environment that is in sync with the subject. We had to do justice to the content."

The ex-robbers in the ads say Godrej Locks are unbreakable. We asked our digital experts whether that sort of endorsement is believable and whether the campaign will yield the desired impact.

Godrej Locks turns thieves into brand ambassadors

Jahan Vandrevala

Godrej Locks turns thieves into brand ambassadors

Martin RavvaJahan Vandrevala, creative director, iProspect India, a digital agency from the stable of Dentsu Aegis Network, says, "While the concept seems clutter-breaking, I believe a bit of demonstration can work wonders. So it's an interesting idea, but the execution could have been better. Imagine a robber demonstrating his techniques for breaking different locks and then trying to break a Godrej lock. Even if we see robbers trying hard to break Godrej locks, I think it's a home run! Such a narrative helps build a realistic approach for the brand."

He adds, "As a viewer, how a robber thinks and how he breaks into a home is interesting to know - just out of sheer curiosity. The environment of a jail definitely adds to the idea."

Martin Ravva, creative head, Zirca, a digital agency, says, "There were two parts to each of the ads. In the first half, we get a glimpse of the thieves' experiences when they committed robberies; this narrative comes across as true and authentic. However, the latter half, in which the product is introduced, seemed a little scripted..."

According to him, this campaign could have taken a more realistic and interesting approach if these Godrej locks were shown attached to real doors in a housing society. "The thieves could have tried breaking these locks using all the tools and techniques they spoke of. Their failure to break them could have created better impact," he says, adding, "The idea of offering a thief's perspective in the ad is brilliant; people get a glimpse of how easy it is for thieves to break locks and how dangerous this can be to their lives. Filming this ad in a jail-like environment and choosing the right lighting was extremely crucial for signalling fear and danger. Lighting plays an important role in achieving the right mood, and these ads do so successfully."

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